Recently I was in Canada to shoot an amazing wedding on the shores of the Okanagan Lake in British Columbia. The week prior I made a stop through Vancouver and visited Granville Island on a very gloomy, rainy day. I happened upon a small workshop that day and met a cool dude named Robert Dobie. He had a massive tree trunk in front of him – a plethora of tools, wood chips, drawings, piles and piles of wood and several cups of coffee littered the area. He was kind enough to let me into his work area and we talked for quite some time. I pulled out my camera, told him I was a photo journalist and asked if I could document his project. He obliged and the images below are what I captured that dark and cold afternoon. The raw nature of these images along with the story of this tree, its transformation and its destination are what make this experience something that will stick with me. (Click on any of the images to see a larger higher-res photo)
This 800-year-old tree was knocked over in a series of storms that battered Stanely Park in 2006. It was donated to Clarence Mills, a Vancouver Haida carver. Here’s where it gets interesting. Clarence, with the assistance of Robert and a few other artists that he works with were commissioned by Oregon State University to create a 360-degree totem pole from this massive log – something that they gladly agreed to and did so as a gift to the University. Fast forward 5 years and this is where I show up and see this beauty in its final stages of creation. The following year it was completely finished by Clarence, Rob and team and shipped off to the USA. Pretty special piece of art and it was used as a center-piece in a brand new Native American Longhouse that was completed May 17th, 2013. Scroll down to the bottom to see some shots of the Longhouse and finished totem pole as well as links to the new home of this bad-boy at OSU. From Canada to Oregon in 7 years.